RIC Alum Promoted to Managing Partner of Providence Law Firm
Named one of the "Top 20 Most Powerful Labor Attorneys in the Nation" in 2012 by Lawdragon Magazine and Human Resource Executive, Robert Brooks ’82 was recently promoted to managing partner of Adler Pollock & Sheehan.
Brooks is well known in Rhode Island for his negotiations in the highly publicized acquisition of the Providence Civic Center by the Rhode Island Covention Center Authority, during which he successfully resolved labor issues that arose from the acquisition.
As the new managing partner of Adler, Pollock and Sheehan, Brooks will continue as a practicing attorney specializing in labor and employment law, while taking on the additional responsibilities of guiding the day-to-day management of the firm, setting strategic and long-term goals and overseeing the firm’s economic performance.
In Best Lawyers, the oldest and most highly respected peer review guide to the legal profession, Brooks was named 2012 Lawyer of the Year. For each of the last five years, he's been named "Super Lawyer" by a rating service of lawyers from more than 70 areas of practice. In addition, the Chambers USA directory of lawyers has recognized him as one of "America’s Leading Business Lawyers" for six years in a row.
Brooks said his undergraduate studies at Rhode Island College helped lay the foundation for his career.
“I majored in public administration,” he said, “which involved a great deal of research and writing and long hours in the library, which is a large part of what we do as attorneys.”
He said his mentors included his “great” political science professors Eugene Perry, Victor Profughi and Milburn Stone. He particularly sought out courses taught by Stone, he said.
“Dr. Stone led great discussions that provoked me to think about the effect of the political world on our lives. He taught a course called Politics in Community Action, which was a primer on how to move government, how to influence government decisions through community action groups and lobbying the state or federal government.”
Brooks also discovered a love for economics at RIC. “It’s interesting that 30-some-odd years later, I’m overseeing my firm’s economic performance,” he said.
Upon graduating from RIC in May 1982, Brooks went to work for Vincent Cianci, then mayor of Providence, as administrative assistant and later deputy chief of staff. In the evenings, he attended law school at Suffolk University.
He credits his ability to land a job in the mayor’s office to his RIC student internships. “While I was at RIC, whenever there was an opportunity to intern in government or public service, I took it,” he said.
He interned at the Silver Lake Neighborhood Association, the personnel bureau at the Rhode Island Department of Administration and the bureau of criminal identification for the state Attorney General's Office.
He volunteered for local political campaigns, including former Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy's run for governor, as well as campaigns for local state representatives. Along the way, he gained valuable experience in public service.
Along with his mother and father, who instilled in him a “strong work ethic,” and the late Patrick Liguori, a mentor at Adler Pollock & Sheehan who taught him "what it means to be a true professional," Brooks credits the late Amato Di Lorenzo, a successful businessman and coowner of the famed 1025 Club in Johnston, R.I., as being one of his greatest influences.
“Matty influenced a lot of young guys from the neighborhood,” he said. “He came from humble beginnings, as a lot of us did, and he saw that hard work was the key ingredient to success.”
Brooks worked for DiLorenzo at the 1025 Club throughout his studies at RIC. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to become a waiter. DiLorenzo took a personal interest in Brooks, encouraging him to continue his education and rewarding his hard work. The 1025 Club was also a popular spot for political functions were held. That’s where Brooks learned that there was a job opening in the mayor’s office.”
He worked for the city of Providence from June 1982 until September 1988.
Though he enjoyed working in public service, he said he was looking for a challenge as he entered the legal field. “I knew that working for a firm would give me the opportunity to hone my skills as a lawyer,” he said. So when he graduated from law school in 1987, he went to work for Adler Pollock & Sheehan.
Since joining the firm, Brooks has represented management in all facets of labor relations and employment law. He counsels employers on day-to-day personnel administration, corporate acquisitions, federal compliance and wage-and-hour issues. He also handles collective bargaining negotiations and a wide variety of labor arbitration issues. His peers have described his style as “prepared, even-tempered and witty.”
“My area of the law requires different skill sets. Litigation is one set of skills. Collective bargaining and negotiating is another skill set. I love them both,” he said.
Of his recent promotion to managing partner. he said, “I’m proud of the accomplishment. I’ve always been interested in leadership roles, and I think I’m good at charting a course and deciding what needs to be done. I’m ready for the responsibility.”